Josh Milan is one of those rare artists in this business whose music is truly timeless. You can play his remix (along with co-producer Kevin Hedge) of Cold Cut featuring Lisa Stansfield’s pop dance hit, “People Hold On”, today and it still sounds as fresh as it did 16 years ago, or Blaze’s, “Can’t Win for Losing”, you’ll find lyrics that are forever relevant. His catalog totals over two-hundred published works, making it the largest catalog produced by any single entity in the genre. As artist and businessman, he has been involved in almost every facet of the music business… Read more
From producing to performing to managing to distributing music, not many can come close to the artistry and business of Josh Milan. Blaze (Josh Milan, Kevin Hedge and Chris Herbert) started writing music together in 1984. The three decided to form a production team after Chris introduced Josh and Kevin and encouraged them to become a recording group. In the beginning, the three would meet in Kevin’s bedroom for writing sessions. That is where they laid the foundation for what they became most respected for – great spiritually uplifting songs. “Songs have always been our main production focus.” Josh Milan explains. “It’s the lyrics and melodies of our musical heroes that have influenced us the most.” Josh has influences that range from Stevie Wonder to James Taylor and beyond. But it’s the combination of deeply soulful melodies, his blend of Afro, Jazz, Soul and Gospel, and the positive world views in their lyrics that makes most people compare his music to the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire.
Josh started to develop demo recordings in the style of the day’s popular club music. With “DJ” Kevin Hedge at the controls, they turned out song after song for other artists and producers to record. Some included “This Time” by Colonel Abrams knock off Hunter Hayes, “One Man” by Chanelle and “Reachin'” by Phase II. The three ultimately signed their first record deal with the newly formed Quark records in 1985, producing three major club hits of the time; “Whatcha Gonna Do”, “If You Should Need A Friend” and “Can’t Win For Losing”. The Blaze sound caught the ear of then Motown Vice-president of A&R, Timmy Regisford, who immediately put them to work on numerous Motown projects. “These guys were making productions that were raw enough to move the club, but always kept the integrity of the songs,” says Regisford on Blaze. By now, the Blaze sound was capturing the spirit of dancers in the clubs and the hearts of radio listeners in New York. As a remixer, Josh(along with Kevin Hedge) has worked on projects for Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Macy Gray, Jamiroquai, Lisa Stansfield, Babyface, and countless others. As overdub musicians, they have worked with DJ/producers David Morales, Frankie Knuckles, Timmy Regisford, Masters at Work and many others.
After touring with bands and playing at such incredible venues and cities as Wimbley Arena, most of the Carribean islands and major cities in the U.S. Following a tour, Josh returned home to start businesses that included real estate, car services, retail stores and night clubs (Kevin and Josh co-owned and promoted the Club Shelter in NYC). Josh went on to produce three more albums under the Blaze banner(along with Kevin): “Basic Blaze” onSlip-n-Slide/UK, “Natural Blaze: The James Toney Jr. Project” on Life Line/Japan and “Spiritually Speaking” on Slip-n-Slide/UK. Also, you will find many compilation albums that comprise some of his greatest hits, a few are: “6 Hubert St.” on Avex/Japan, “Pure Blaze” on Easy Street/US, “Blaze Productions” on Playhouse/Germany and “Spiritually Speaking . . .Then and Now” on West End/US. In 1995, Josh scored his biggest co-writing success with a song called “Hideaway” performed by De’lacy. The song reached the top ten on the UK charts and was added to a vast array of compilations, racking up sales in the millions. Josh also co-wrote charts hits for Amira “Desire” and himself with the #1 dance hit, “Breathe”. This helped him to become one of the most sought after writers, producers and remixers in the business, along with his partner Kevin. Musically, Josh has collaborated with super DJ/Producer Louie Vega (one half of the production team Masters at Work) to assist him with producing his first solo album, “Elements of Life”.
Finally, after 25 years on the scene, Josh Milan is just as current as he was then, producing relevant hits today as he did back in 1985. “I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.” Josh further explains, “Music is Gods voice and my ears are pressed against his lips.” JOSH MILAN has been a student of music ever since he was in grade school in Brooklyn, NY. At an early age, through the influence of his mother, he learned to appreciate music from many different genres. “I believe that music is an extension of a man’s inner self” Josh says. He grew up in a religious household, and learned to play the organ in the church. He later teamed up with Chris Herbert and Kevin Hedge and the three of them formed the performing/production team known as Blaze. Co-writing and producing many artists, along with Hedge, became the primary focus. As his career blossomed, Josh learned to arrange vocal harmony, and vocal performance. “Donny Hathaway is my main vocal influence. He has touched my musicality in such a way that I find myself listening, and learning from him even today.” Josh has made many guest appearances as vocalist for artist such as YUKIHIRO FUKUTOMI, Louie Vega, and Chieko Kinbara to name a small few. Josh’s artistry takes on many turns. He is a Jazz music collector, a photographer and a painter. He is currently the Minister of Music at his church, and very proud of it.
After 20 years of writing, arranging, and performing music, Josh is yet playing in the church and staying true to his roots in Gospel music. Josh Milan is writing and producing a full length CD that will feature songs written and produced by him. “Sandra St. Victor, ChinahBlac, Crystal Johnson, Cinnamon Brown, Honey Sweet, and a few others have lent their talents to complete this project. It’s going to be awesome” Josh says. “There is a lot of live instrumentation that the industry has gotten away from. That’s the main reason I’m starting Honeycomb Music. I wanted to be in full control of the music that comes out. Labels like to have a hand in your music. The industry has a way of dictating what some producers feel they should produce. I’m choosing to march to my own BEAT. After that project comes out sometime this Summer, I will be finishing my solo project. I’m looking forward to an extremely creative year!”
Biography courtesy of Honeycomb Music. A special thank to Crystal Johnson for making this interview possible.
01 – Matthew Bandy – Wish (feat. Josh Milan) (Single, 2011)
02 – Blaze – Yearnin’ (Vocal) (Snippet) (Single, 1985)
03 – Blaze – If You Should Need A Friend (Single, 1987)
04 – Blaze – (Scene 1) Street Corner: Get Up (Snippet) (CD, 25 Years Later, 1990)
05 – Blaze – (Scene 2) The Prayer: So Special (CD, 25 Years Later, 1990)
06 – Blaze – Lovelee Dae (CD Maxi, 1997)
07 – Josh Milan – Forever I Do (feat. Angela Johnson) (Josh Milan Presents: Honeycomb Music Vol. 1, 2011)
Background music during the interview:
Blaze – Yearnin’ (Vocal), Oscar Peterson – Lover, Come Back To Me, Blaze – (Scene 1) Street Corner: Get Up , Blaze – Time For Love, Coldcut feat. Lisa Stansfield – People Hold On (New Jersey Jazz Mix), Phase II – Reachin’, Sylvester – You make Me Feel (Mighty Real), Blaze – Astrology, Blaze – Till You Go Home (Main Mix)